Tom’s Hardware reviews Lotus Symphony

It’s always good to see a fair balanced review of a product, and Tom’s Hardware seem to be one of the better sites at group tests.  This week they’ve taken a look at Linux-based Office applications, including Lotus Symphony 1.3.  This summary concludes their review, entitled ‘A Different Kind of Office Suite’:

Overall, Symphony is visually appealing and unmistakably modern. Unfortunately, while the color scheme appeals to the eyes, text within the document body, toolbars, and menus are downright unpleasant to behold, mostly due to heavy pixelization. The icons in the toolbars appear to be of different sizes, creating an overall “choppy” look. Also, Symphony treats tooltips and drop-down menus in the body and sidebars as windows, with all of the associated desktop effects for windows. As you can imagine, this can become annoying very quickly. Using any 3D effect animations for windows will cause tooltips and drop down boxes in Symphony to use those animations as well. That won’t be a problem if you disable desktop effects, or simply choose conservative animations for your windows. IBM has assured me that this bug is being addressed. They have also said they are evaluating the possibility of adding 64-bit deb/rpm support sometime in the future.

Symphony definitely takes a new approach to the age-old office suite. If IBM can smooth out the rough edges, this app could easily replace the basic productivity suites currently pre-installed on most distros, maybe even Corel or MS Works on Windows machines. However, being so unfamiliar could potentially discourage users simply looking for an easy MS Office replacement. At the very least, IBM’s Lotus Symphony is an application worth watching.

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Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!